Don Masson

Don Masson

Kettering Town manager from March 1983 to October 1983.

Don Masson was given the job of rescuing Kettering from the ignominy of relegation from the Alliance Premier League after the sacking of Jim Conde in March 1983 and the ex-Scottish International, having gained plenty of playing experience with Middlesborough, QPR and Derby County among others was thought well qualified for the task.

Don MassonHowever Kettering were in poor shape both on and off the field and Masson moved quickly to sign ex-Arsenal and Leicester City midfielder Eddie Kelly for his first match in charge, away to Barnet on the 2nd April 1983. Although Masson got Kettering off to a winning start with a 3-2 victory at Underhill, Kelly came-off injured mid-way through the second-half and never played for the Poppies again.

Kettering hadn’t won for nine league matches when Masson took charge, but the relief of the victory at Barnet was short-lived and just two days later a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of champions elect Enfield again cast a cloud on Kettering’s chances of survival. One major plus that Masson had inherited from his predecessor was of course Frankie Murphy and the Poppies striker certainly played his part in the Poppies end of season relegation battle, including two of the goals in the 3-2 win over Barnet.

In their next match, Kettering ran out 3-1 winners at Rockingham Road over high-flying Runcorn, with goals from Terry Goode, local lad Jem Palmer (scoring his first goal for the Poppies) and of course Murphy himself. However, despite another Murphy strike in the following fixture away to Bangor City, Kettering lost 4-2 and were beaten 3-1 at Altrincham as relegation from the Conference loomed large.

Kettering’s next match was a relegation ‘six-pointer’ at home to fellow strugglers Yeovil Town and Masson’s men came out all guns blazing to win 5-2, young David Hofbauer scoring a hat-trick to add to Derek Duggan’s strike and an own goal by the well-beaten Glovers. Again the joy was short-lived as Kettering were hammered 4-0 away to Wealdstone and beaten 2-1 at Trowbridge in their final fixture, but results elsewhere contrived to provide Masson with an escape route and Kettering narrowly survived the drop, with Barrow and Stafford Rangers the two unlucky clubs being relegated.

During the summer months, Masson signed several players in an attempt to boost the strength of the Poppies squad after a close-shave with relegation. Arthur Mann (for what would be the experienced defender’s first spell at Rockingham Road), Paul Barlett (a winger from Boston Utd), David Beavon (a winger from Lincoln City), Less Bradd (a striker from Wigan) and Dave Needham (a defender and Masson’s eventual successor) joined Peter Denyer to make their Poppies debut in the Alliance Premier League.

Bradd and Barlett made scoring debuts, but Kettering still went down 3-2 at home to visitors Scarborough and two away defeats followed in quick succession for Masson’s team before they recorded their first points of the season, a 2-1 home win over Boston Utd in which Masson scored his only goal for Kettering. September’s five fixtures saw three defeats, one win and a draw as Masson’s tenure at Rockingham Road was looking increasingly fragile.

Masson’s sacking came in October 1983 amidst another poor start to the season and accusations of poor training sessions at the club and the ex-Scottish International departed Rockingham Road, with the club temporarily under the joint managership of Dave Needham and Peter Denyer, before the former took over sole responsibility.